Future Chrome OS devices could have MediaTek, Rockchip processors

Google’s Chrome operating system is designed to run on desktops, notebooks (and maybe tablets) with x86 or ARM-based processors. Most Chromebooks and Chromeboxes released so far have had Intel chips, but a handful of models including recent Samsung Chromebooks and the HP Chromebook 11 have been powered by Samsung Exynos chips based on ARM architecture.

But Samsung isn’t the only ARM-based chip maker looking at Chrome OS. Rockchip recently started demonstrating a Chromebook prototype that uses its RK3288 processor and now it looks like MediaTek is working on bringing support for its processors to Chrome OS as well.

mediatek

Google’s François Beaufort notes that developers at MediaTek have submitted code for an experimental board with an ARM Cortex-A7 processor to the open source Chromium OS project.

ARM Cortex-A7 chips are low-power processors that are more typically found in Android phones or tablets than in laptops. But they tend to be cheap: Engadget surmises that if existing Chromebooks sell for as little as $200, a model based on MediaTek’s new board could be even cheaper.

Of course it’d also probably be slower than existing models: the HP Chromebook 11 and Samsung Series 3 Chromebook both have ARM Cortex-A15 dual-core processors which are faster than a Cortex-A7 chip, but not as fast as most Intel chips. While these Chromebooks can handle most basic tasks, they can feel sluggish compared with a model like the Acer C720 Chromebook with an Intel Celeron 2955U Haswell (or faster) processor.

Still… the idea of an ARM-based Chromebook that sells for less than $200 could be appealing some budget notebook customers.

It’s not clear if or when we’ll actually see Chrome OS devices based on MediaTek’s processors. All we know for now is that MediaTek is testing some of its chips with Chromium OS and contributing code to open source project.

  • Mobile_Dom

    really looking forward to this :) depending on how much cheaper it is i might even end up picking one up

  • http://rationaldreaming.com/ Mike

    The question is, how much cheaper can you go and still make a quality product? The processors might be cheaper, but people don’t want cheap keyboards, screens, batteries, or cases if it means they are cheaply built with poor quality control. If it’s much less than $200, it probably won’t be worth the money.

    • Maventwo

      But even displays will be cheaper forthcoming years.
      LG Display announced a flexible Amoled display recently.
      Flexible Amoled:s will in some years be made with R2R-method.
      Where R2R=Roll-to-roll with InkJet printing in the layers in an Amoled display.

      So, Chromebook och Chromebox will be cheaper than $200
      and that without poor quality.

  • Michael Thompson

    Admittedly I’ve modified mine with a genuine heat sink made of copper which is a major thermal upgrade from the piece of tin foil that was installed for the task by the factory, but my quad-core Rockchip 3188-based Android stick PC (CX-919 Finless ROM) has impressed me a few times with what it is able to do.
    Glad to see that they’re getting more shots at powering devices.

  • binaryhermit

    Given Mediatek’s history of GPL compliance (or lack thereof) I suspect that getting future updates could be a problem for a Mediatek-based Chromebook.

  • http://soltesza.wordpress.com/ sola

    I am not sure what roles could Cortex-A7s serve in a Chromebook. Sometimes even my XE303 feels a bit slugish with ChromeOS (I also use it with Ubuntu) and that uses much-more powerful Cortex-A15 cores.

    • Lloyd Seaton

      MediaTek’s MT6592 is an octacore Cortex-A7 chip that can be clocked at up to 2GHz and is currently dominating the smart phone market via dozens of products. Presuming that Chrome OS is structured to take proper advantage of multiple cores, this chip should be more than competitive with a dual core Cortex A15.

    • Mobile_Dom

      first Gen, 32nm A15s with massive power leakage issues doesnt compare to quad A7s which were already more power efficient and have most of the stuff that plagued to 5250 worked out, also one of the reasons the 5250 in the XE303 sucked (sometimes it does, im writing this comment on mine now) was the horrifically bad Mali-T604 GPU, the Mali 450 MP4 isnt a phenomenal GPU, but it has a much better reputation than the T604

  • not_impressed

    “they can feel sluggish compared with a model… with an Intel Celeron 2955U”. I would only consider one of these new ARM systems if they have 4k hdmi 2.0 (and good linux drivers/support). Not expecting that from these low-cost SOC makers.